Kansas shatters election record for primary votes cast

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More ballots were cast during the 2022 primary election than for any primary in Kansas history, election officials said Thursday as they certified an election they called the most closely watched in state history.

A total of 939,371 people cast a vote during the primary, shattering the previous primary record of 532,000 votes cast in the 1996 primary.

The record-breaking numbers came as Kansans went to the polls in droves to decide whether the state constitution should protect the right to an abortion.

The amendment, which would have removed abortion as a protected right in the  constitution, was defeated with 58% of the vote.

Coming just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the abortion amendment campaign cost more than $20 million, making it one of the most expensive primaries in state history.

About 48% of the state’s 1.95 million registered voters cast a ballot in August, compared to 39% in 1996, the previous high in the past 30 years.

The 1.9 million registered voters in Kansas also was a record for a primary election.

More than 319,000 people cast a ballot in advance, which is slightly more than the 311,000 advance votes cast in 2020 and more than three times any previous total for advance voting.

The results were certified Thursday by the State Board of Canvassers, which is made up of Secretary of State Scott Schwab, Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and Republican state Attorney General Derek Schmidt.

State election officials used the post-election audits and the recount of races for state treasurer, a state House race and the abortion amendment to shut down any idea that the primary election was marked by any irregularity.

They called the 2022 primary election the most scrutinized election in state history.

The secretary of state’s office said it was not aware of another recount for a statewide office or for a constitutional amendment in state history.

A combined 573,748 ballots were recounted by hand, and the difference between the hand count and the machine count for these races was 66 votes, or barely even a fraction of a percent.

“If we’ve proven nothing else, Kansas gets it right,” Schwab said after the results were certified.

“Just like they’re still talking about the 2020 election, there will be people talking about the 2022 election and there’s nothing you can do,” he said.

“It has been proven beyond any doubt we got the election right,” Schwab said. “There is no question that the winners won and the losers lost.”